Saturday, March 17, 2012

2012 Philly Phlyer Team Time Trial

2012 Philly Phlyer Team Time Trial
West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA
2nd Place

With the addition of Adam Furlong to the three team members returning from the 2011 SNR team--Andy Quinn, Jon D'Alba and Greg Kaplan--Schuylkill Navy Racing was in good shape for upping the 2011 2nd place performance to a win. Prior to the start of this event, we planned, strategized and got "dialed-in" though minutes of preparation during warmup. It was decided that the most effective tactic would be to avoid crashing at 30mph, since all four of us had not yet ridden together before this event.

Knowing the competition, Jon D'Alba indicated that we might set our sights on a repeat performance from 2011; the team from Breakaway Bikes-160over90, all Cat 1 racers, might be a little stronger than we. But no such pre-race talk deterred us from going out and hammering for the win. Additionally, with 3:4 of us on a Kestrel, and some of us fit by Richie Cortez at Breakaway Bikes, we knew we were set up for greatness.

Following almost all of the collegiate racers in the same event, we were the 2nd team off the line in the Open category. The course was 2 laps of about 6 miles. The 1st mile was extremely technical: a few turns after the team built up some speed, then a downhill into a 90° right turn, followed by a sweeping left turn right at the bottom of the hill. Then hammer out West River/MLK Drive and back, climb for half a mile, more turns and repeat. In the 2011 version of this event, we were left with 3 riders before the end of the 1st mile. In 2012, we held together through the most technical 1st and 7th mile, and we were able to hammer along with more rest between pulls!

Our initial goal was to just keep a high pace for the 1st lap, and then really open up and go on the 2nd lap. We did really short rotations, so that no one man was in the wind for too long. We kept the average speed as high as possible on the flat, cobbleless sectors of West River Drive. The 1st lap had us moving well, but a little tentatively since we had not done a TTT in a year--and one team member had never done a TTT prior to this. By the time we were on our return trip on the 1st lap, we had become more comfortable with being inches from each other, at speed, and not having our hands near the brake levers. I am not sure how many teams we passed; I was only focused on keeping speed up and not crashing.
"Great job everyone. The team that beat us had all cat 1 riders and probably 4 of the top 6 amateur racers in Philly. I'm ok with being 2nd to that squad. Had a blast!"  -Jon

"Clearly the only way to win next year is to upgrade jon to a faster rider. But for real, that was a ton of fun. I had no idea what to expect going into it, and I feel comparable to post-6k [rowing erg testing], but that was a lot more fun than one. Thanks for such a great first race experience!"  -Adam

"Wait...the race is today?!"  -Andy

"Age group awards? Eff that. I'm not 40 for a few more weeks." -Greg

The climb into the end of the 1st lap broke the rhythm just a little. We collected ourselves at the top of the climb, went through some more technical course, including a 270° rotary, and were through into the 2nd lap to do it again. On this lap, we moved more cohesively, with smoother rotations, and were more comfortable with the speed and proximity of bike and body parts. We managed to evade another team which had crashed! on West River Drive, about 2 miles out from the start. To make things more challenging, one of the riders from the crashed out team was walking her bike against traffic, to collect her sprawled-out teammate. By the time we had gone through the turnaround point and back to where this team had crashed, the road was clear, and we did not have to think much about swerving to miss other riders swerving to miss this crash.

The 2nd trip back in hurt. A lot. Legs were heavy and lungs were burning. Only the sound of wind through the helmet, chains meshing and then unwinding on cassettes, and teammates yelling "clear" to let you know you could move to your left to drop back after a pull. As we moved through into the last 2 miles, things started to come apart, but we managed to hold ourselves together. With less than a mile to go, Jon took a massive pull, to keep us over 30mph. Then Adam took a huge pull into the turn before the uphill--we were still over 30mph going into a right turn. Greg got on Andy's wheel, and Andy was on Jon's. Jon moved few meters up on Andy, and Andy moved up about 20m from Greg who hammed to get up the hill. As Andy and Jon were yelling "go go go go...", Greg got back on Andy's wheel. Andy let Jon take them through the rotary and the slower-moving traffic in the last half mile, with Greg right behind Andy. Jon went over the line in 27:38, Andy in 27:39 and Greg in 27:40. Adam was a few more seconds behind Greg. The team's time is taken on the 3rd rider.

This race went really well, especially since until 48 hours prior to racing, the SNR team had not finalized a lineup, and did not practice the race lineup until 30' prior to racing. It was a huge amount fun. If you've never done a team time trial, I highly recommend trying one.

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